Longest Night


My District Superintendent Rev Todd Harris gave me a prayer journal recently. Advent is about spiritual growth, and journaling is a good practice. Maybe you have one lying around as well, and we can write and reflect together.
I started taking an online spiritual check-in course called SOUL RESET, based on the book by Rev Junius Dotson. One session invited reflection over seven questions.
Question #6
How is it with your soul? Listen to your body, your feelings, and to your thoughts. Share with God how your soul is doing today. Then listen for God's voice to speak to your heart.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
Blessing from COMMON PRAYER)


Today is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Many churches offer Blue Christmas services annually for those experiencing grief. The 'Blue Christmas' service used here is based on an order developed and used at The Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, Honolulu Hawaii.
Psalm 121
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
who hath made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved;
he that keepeth thee will not slumber;
behold, the God that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day nor the moon at night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil and shall sustain thy soul.
We accept and lay before you, God, the sharpness of memory, the sadness and grief, the hurt and fear, the anger and pain.
We accept and lay before you the ways we feel we have fallen short, and the times we have spent blaming ourselves, and you, for all that we have suffered.
We accept and lay before you the time we have walked alone, in darkness; and in knowledge of our own mortality.
We remember that though we have journeyed far, and that, while lost, we may have turned away from the light,
the light itself has not failed.
We remember that though winter be upon us and though the night be dark, the dawn will come, and dawn defeats the darkness.
God of mercy and compassion, there are those among us who are grieving over what might have been.
We have lost a beloved, a job, a goal, a cause, a dream. We find ourselves adrift and alone.
We are weary from the journey, and we have found no room at the inn.
We come to you seeking rest, and peace, and shelter from the storm. Please hold us close in your embrace, be near to us this night, until the light returns and morning comes.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for thy love's sake. Amen.


(This one is probably my favorite- or at a minimum top 3. So many questions.)
This popped up in my daily devotional yesterday and... Well, everyone needs to hear it. And if you think this has nothing to do with Advent or Christmas, check out the songs sung by Mary and Simeon as they learn more about the mission Jesus will pursue near the end of  Luke 1.
"Come, let us sing to the LORD: let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
May your justice be a light to guide us : and your mercy a help on the way.
Psalm 101:1 – 4
I will sing of mercy and justice : to you, O LORD, will I sing praises.
I will strive to follow a blameless course; oh, when will you come to me? : I will walk with sincerity of heart within my house.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes : I hate the doers of evil deeds; they shall not remain with me.
A crooked heart shall be far from me : I will not know evil.
May your justice be a light to guide us : and your mercy a help on the way.
Desmond Tutu, a South African bishop and leader in the movement to end apartheid, said, “I don’t preach a social gospel; I preach the gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord ­Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When ­people were hungry, ­Jesus didn’t say, ‘Now is that political or social?’ He said, ‘I feed you.’ Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.
Lord, we pray that rather than picking apart your gospel to suit ourselves, we would pick apart the twisted assumption that bread is only for the fortunate, water only for the lucky, and freedom only for the strong. Amen.